Do you have a low power home server?

I’ve been meaning to post a follow-up to ‘Cheap low power home server options‘ for a while; partly for my own curiosity (I wonder what server I’d choose if I was looking now), and partly because more and more people seem to be looking for one (based on the highly scientific hit count for the original post, which is almost twice as popular as the second place post).

Rich is considering a SheevaPlug for example, some neat looking machines crop up on the Smart Home Blog now and then, and of course there’s the hugely popular (in Hursley at least!) Viglen MPC-L, which appeared just after I got my Netvoyager (still very pleased with my choice- up for 425 days and counting!)

The question is, what server are you using? And would you recommend it?! It’d be great to hear some experiences, whether you’re happy fighting something as small as a NSLU2, decided on a server anyone could use, counted the pennies, or splashed out on something more expensive.

Update: sadly Chris has discovered that the MPC-L and LX-1000 have been discontinued. (17 February 2010)

“so it looks like Viglen dont sell the MPC-L anymore and Netvoyager don’t sell the lx1000 anymore. What’s a low power geek to do?” @yellowpark

A few alternatives suggested by @rikp, @dllmr, @ScaredyCat, and @netcompsys:

Update: A couple more options which look quite tempting. (4 May 2010)

  • GuruPlug (the SheevaPlug2.)
  • O2 Joggler (very nearly got one of these when they were on special offer! Looks like a very useful device with the bonus of a responsive touch screen.)

Update: I gave in and bought a Joggler while they were briefly back on special offer, although I haven’t (yet) moved anything off my old Netvoyager. If you missed out on the Jogglers, the Aleutia T1 Fanless PC looks like another possible contender for home server duties. (6 July 2010)



Darn, another cunning plan someone has beaten me to…

The last couple of years I’ve been swamped with more apples than I know what to do with in my garden. Not bad considering the size of the garden, apple tree, and how much of the tree I keep chopping off. Anyway, most of the apples end up in the compost which has always seemed a bit of a waste, so I’ve been pondering some way to put my unwanted apples in touch with people who want to make pies. A fruit reunited if you will. I even had a name in mind for this splendid web 2.0 site: “Windfall”

I’ve been thinking about it a bit more recently, since growing your own food at home seems to be in fashion (along with home brew strangely). Getting the quantity and timing right for harvesting seems to be a bit hit and miss, so swapping my unwanted apples for some other veg in return seemed like it could really work. Well, I’ve no idea if it does actually work, but it looks like has beaten me to it! Still, they only seem to do the US so far…

(As it happens, it doesn’t look like I’ll have many apples this year anyway; only half the tree had blossom on for some reason. Maybe I chopped off one branch too many.)

So you want my vote…

Tomorrow morning I’ll be walking down to the local polling station and I still have no idea who to vote for. The first problem is finding out what the choice is, luckily the Eastleigh council web site at least has a bunch of PDFs listing who’s standing.

It looks like I’ll be able to choose from this motley collection for the European election:

  • British National Party
  • Christian Party “Proclaiming Christ’s Lordship”
  • Conservative Party
  • English Democrats
  • Jury Team
  • Liberal Democrats
  • No2EU: Yes to Democracy
  • Pro Democracy:
  • Socialist Labour Party
  • The Green Party
  • The Labour Party
  • The Peace Party
  • The Roman Party. Ave!
  • United Kingdom First
  • United Kingdom Independence Party

There’s been barely any discussion about what the MEPs will actually been doing in the European parliament. I don’t need a European election to send a message to Gordon Brown (sorry Gordon, but I have just never been able to take you seriously as PM), and it seems fairly pointless to vote based on whether I think we should be in or out of Europe. I kind of like the idea of a pan-European party improving the system but I don’t know enough about Libertas to guess whether that’s what they’ll actually do. (And it will always be a guess, since I bet a few people were expecting a referendum from Labour.) The Jury Team idea sounds interesting but probably not that constructive in practice. Maybe if the party membership were the party whips, voting throughout the term of the elected MEPs in a kind of ongoing referendum… but I suspect people would get bored of that fairly quickly. The Roman Party is in with a chance of getting my vote if I could find out a bit more about Jean-Louis’ plans. (Not much out there, but I did find this leaflet.)

Possibly even less interesting is the council election, with only the usual suspects lining up:

  • Conservative Party
  • UK Independence Party
  • Labour Party
  • Liberal Democrat

Ignoring the Labour Party (who don’t even seem to try here, which is fine by me) and UKIP, the choice between Conservative and Lib Dem is hardly great. The two of them seem to endlessly blame each other for exactly the same local problems and say very little about real solutions. One slight difference is that the Conservatives just turn up at election time, which is I suppose at least efficient.

Oil, gravel, houses and the crematorium NIMBY moaning is just annoying. Hands up anyone in Hedge End who doesn’t live in a house under 40 years old, use a car and isn’t planning to die? No, didn’t think so. As for the tap in the council offices; it’s not for a kitchen sink (which would be a bit extreme), it’s a pretty sensible way to provide drinks for employees. I’d go on but I think I’m well in to ranting territory already. If I vote Conservative, it will be at least partly because they haven’t had the front to tell me that one of the other parties can’t win here. And if I vote Lib Dem, if will be at least partly down to @mpntod – more MPs should be connecting with people like Martin.

On balance though, I’m very likely to be voting Limbo.

That was a political broadcast on behalf of a grumpy old man. We now return to our normal service.

Lite green

Now that being green, or being seen to be green, is popular, it can be difficult separating facts from fiction, especially when environmental issues are never simple in the first place.

I’ve been thinking about a couple of ‘green’ victories recently, and my trip to the recycling centre this morning touched on both of them. The first is what a fine stand the supermarkets are making for the environment by not giving out carrier bags. Erm, that’s the best they can manage?! I don’t get a simple bag to carry my shopping home in, which I get plenty of use from, but everything in the bag is still completely over packaged, often in materials that can’t be recycled anywhere.

The best kind of recycling is when you can reuse something pretty much as-is in your own home: no transport costs, no energy required to remake anything, and less waste. Plastic bags are great. Among other things, I use them to carry shopping in, use as bin liners, keep extension leads and wires in (stops them getting tangled up), pack clothes in (keeps them dry when bag gets rained on), carry swimming stuff in, and take broken energy saving light bulbs to the recycling centre in…

It just seems odd that the thing you’re putting in the hazardous mercury bin is somehow environmentally friendly. Now I’ve used energy saving light bulbs for well over 10 years, but so far that’s been my choice. Unfortunately it looks like I’ll be getting less choice in the future.

There are pros and cons to traditional incandescent bulbs and compact fluorescent energy saving bulbs (CFL). Like the mercury content for example; that’s not great and certainly adds to the end of life energy required for more transportation and recycling, but it doesn’t seem as bad as some of the headline grabbing articles like to make out. CFLs are a fair bit more complex as well, so they’ve already used more energy before you’ve every turned it on, but they should more than make up for that during use. The complexity seems to reduce reliability as well; energy saving bulbs are supposed to last much longer but in my experience they always seem to go wrong prematurely, sometimes with quite worrying special effects! Maybe that’s just the freebie ones you get with breakfast cereals though. The first CFL I ever had seemed quite sensible in that the bulb was separate to the electronics. If either stopped working, you didn’t need to replace both. The assumption was that the electronics would last longer than the bulb, which works if you use better components.

It doesn’t seem that easy to come by hard facts related to the energy used for production, but there’s some interesting discussion on the Watt with some useful comparisons. Over all, I do think that energy saving bulbs are better where I choose to use them. On the other hand, it seems crazy to ban incandescent bulbs while at the same time doing nothing to stop the trend to light rooms with loads of small spot lights; each bulb may only be 20W but when they’re all on, my kitchen uses a huge amount of power!

So, can I have my carrier bags back, and please don’t ban the bulb. Ban tumble driers instead.